Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscars 2012: Hugo beats The Artist in nominations, sci-fi and fantasy again sink to sound and visual categories

NOMINATIONS for the 2012 Oscars have been unveiled - and they include some big surprises.

But predictably - and perhaps with justification in some instances - the sci-fi and fantasy films were either excluded or relegated to the sound and visual categories.

In a recent poll I asked Geek Files readers which of the nine films under consideration for a visual effects nomination should make it to the final five. 

Your top choice was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, followed by Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and - tied in fourth place - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class, and then Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Hugo and Real Steel.

The Academy chose to put forward Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. 

Of course, I'm disappointed that the undoubted finesse and character focus of the X-Men revamp didn't get a mention somewhere but not entirely surprised, as superhero films are usually shunned; even The Dark Knight was nominated only for sound editing and Heath Ledger's supporting actor performance, though it did win both.

The final Potter film also earned nods in make-up and art direction while Michael Bay's third Transformers action film was also named in the sound mixing and sound editing categories. 

Spielberg's computer-animated, motion-capture film The Adventures of Tintin earned just a nomination for original score.

Martin Scorsese's Hugo - his first animated feature and his first film in 3D - leads the way this year with 11 nominations, one more than the hotly-tipped, highly-acclaimed The Artist with 10.

The other films in the best picture list are The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse.

Spielberg failed to earn a nod for War Horse in the director category, which instead homed in on Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Martin Scorsese (Hugo), Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) and Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) as the contenders.

The actors vying for the famous trophy are Demian Bichir (A Better Life), George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Brad Pitt (Moneyball). It was a welcome acknowledgement for Oldman, who has at last earned his first Oscar nomination, but a snub for Michael Fassbender who was expected to be up for his role as a sex addict in Shame.

Nominated for best actress are Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn). No sign of Tilda Swinton, who was expected to earn a nod for We Need To Talk About Kevin.

The nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were announced in Beverly Hills by actress Jennifer Lawrence and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak.
The awards will be presented on February 26 in a ceremony hosted by Billy Crystal.

Here's the full list:

Academy Awards 2012 nominations

Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Best actor
Demian Bichir - A Better Life
George Clooney - The Descendants
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt - Moneyball

Best actress
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn

Supporting actor
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Supporting actress
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help

Adapted screenplay
The Descendants
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Original screenplay
The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight In Paris
A Separation

The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants - Alexander Payne
Hugo - Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick

Animated feature film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

Art direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Costume design
The Artist
Jane Eyre

Documentary (feature):
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Documentary (short subject):
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Film editing
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Foreign language film
Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)

Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady

Music (Original Score)
The Adventures of Tintin - John Williams
The Artist - Ludovic Bource
Hugo - Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Alberto Iglesias
War Horse - John Williams

Music (Original Song)
Man or Muppet (The Muppets)
Real in Rio (Rio)

Short film (animated)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Short film (live action)
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

Sound editing
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Sound mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Visual effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

“Politics of Confrontation” Has Put Nation Into Serious Political Crisis: WP

Politics of confrontation of the two big political parties has thrown the country into a serious political crisis, leaders of Workers Party of Bangladesh (WP) said here Saturday.

They said the Awami League led government has failed to rein in prices of essential commodities and fulfill the hopes and desires of the country's people.

The leaders of WP &ndash a partner of the Awami League-led ruling Grand Alliance, were addressing a rally held to push for their 10-point demand at the Mahanagar Natyamancha. 

About 20,000 workers and leaders of Workers Party from all over the country attended the rally.

The WP leaders further noted that the government has also been unsuccessful in solving the daily crises in the lives of the people and in controlling the law and order.

"Abolition of non-party caretaker system for holding acceptable parliamentary elections has aggravated the political crisis," declared WP President Rashed Khan Menon MP.

Menon called for introduction of a non-party interim government for holding a free, fair and acceptable Parliamentary Elections participated by all political parties. "Parliamentary Election under the ruling party would not be acceptable to all," the WP President warned.

Chairing the rally, Menon requested the ruling AL to take the initiative for adopting an acceptable framework of a non-party interim government - in consultation with all political parties - for holding a free, fair and acceptable Parliamentary Election.

Menon also requested the main opposition BNP to return to Parliament and place its formula on non-party interim government.

Identifying the GoB's choice for rental power production as the cause of deteriorating economy, WP President said excessive expenditure on rental power system has compelled the government to borrow huge amount of money from banks which in turn has put the economy under great strains.

Anisur Rahman Mollick GS of the party blamed the AL-led government for deviating from the 23-point programme on which the Awami League led Alliance was forged before the 2008 parliamentary polls.

He criticised the regime for retaining state religion in the Constitution.

Mollick asked the government to take up the issue of Tipaimukh Dam with New Delhi so that neighbouring India abandons the idea of building the controversial dam.

He also asked the government to take up the Teesta sharing issue to get due share of water of the international river.

Besides, the WP leaders also criticised government's failure to stop border killings by BSF and serving the interest of the wealthy by following the prescriptions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Found.

Declining to take responsibility for failures of this government, the leaders declared to launch a movement against government's failures saying that the alliance with the ruling AL was threatening the very existence of WP.

The workers of nationalised jute mills would go on a 48-hour strike beginning 28 February, they informed.

Politburo members Bimal Biswas, Nurul Hasan, Fazle Hossain Badsha, Hafizur Rahman Bhuiya, Safiuddin Ahmed, Ikbal Kabir Zahid, Hazera Sultana, Quamrul Ahsan and Nur Ahmed Baku also spoke on the occassion.

WP Central Committee leader Manoj Saha readout the 10-point Demand before the rally.

He also announced a series of programmmes, WP would organise up to April.

Soyrce :

Hope India acts against border 'culprits': Mozena

Expressing anxiety over recent killings and torture of Bangladeshis at the border with India, the US ambassador to Dhaka has said the Indian government will have to take steps to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

Replying to journalists after visiting Puthia temple at Rajshahi, Dan W Mozena on Sunday said, "I realise that we are very close to the India border and tomorrow, I hope to visit the land border with India."

Responding to a query, Mozena said he is 'aware' of the recent 'tragic incidents' that have taken place at the border.

"These incidents are most regrettable, very sad and very tragic, and I hope the government of India will move expeditiously to hold accountable those responsible for these incidents."

Apparently referring to a recent footage televised by private Indian channel NDTV showing torture being inflicted on a Bangladeshi cattle trader by the India's Border Security Force (BSF), the US ambassador said, "...And I watched one video. They know who those people are and so I hope they will take action against them."

India has already brought to trial eight BSF soldiers responsible for the incident at Khanpur border.

He, however, reasoned that such matters should not strain the ties between the two neighbours. "...Those are the actions of a few individuals and they need to be held accountable."

"But the relations between Bangladesh and India is a different issue, and my government [the US], very strongly encourages good relations between Bangladesh and India."

Meanwhile, special secretary of Indian foreign ministry Pinak Chakravarty on Sunday told a programme in Dhaka, BSF has been strictly instructed not to open fire and they are trying to obey the order.

At the home minister-level talks between the two neighbouring countries on Feb 24 at New Delhi, the Indian minister P Chidambaram also claimed that the border killings have gone down.

Meanwhile, the recent comment made by the BSF chief U K Bansal to BBC, "Firing (along the border) can never be completely stopped," drew severe flak from the Bangladeshi quarters and was officially protested by the country on Feb 9.

A recent European Parliament delegation to Bangladesh also said that they would take up the matter with the Indian embassy at Brussels following their return there.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has already appealed to the Indian government a number of times to bring the BSF personnel responsible for border killings to book. 

Border Killings :: Shahara happy with Indian pledges

The director generals of India's Border Security Force and Border Guard Bangladesh will meet in New Delhi on March 11-15 for talks to end the BSF firing on and killing of Bangladeshis at the border.

Home Minister Shahara Khatun made the announcement on the structured biannual director general-level meeting yesterday afternoon. She returned home, wrapping up her first official visit to India, yesterday.

Talking to a group of journalists at the Taj Man Singh Hotel in New Delhi before she left for home, Shahara said the BGB-BSF meeting would discuss how to step up consultations between the two border forces and bring an end to the incidents of firing and killing at the frontier.

The BGB-BSF meeting assumes significance as it comes in the wake of a number of incidents of firing and killing by BSF along the border.

The Indian side, during the home minister-level meeting Saturday, explained to Bangladesh the circumstances in which BSF had to open fire recently when its own jawans had come under attack and were grievously injured by members of a suspected smuggling gang.

However, Bangladesh is seriously concerned by the remarks of BSF chief UK Bansal, who in two separate interviews to the BBC and the Press Trust of India, had said the firing would not stop completely and that the BSF would open fire if dared by criminals.

Shahara said all the Indian leaders she had met in the last three days assured her that India was taking steps to completely stop incidents of border firing and killing. 

Terming her visit to India and her interaction with the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, successful, Shahara said she had given the Indian leaders the impression of how the people of Bangladesh and the government of Sheikh Hasina would be inconvenienced if the stalemate on the proposed agreement on the sharing of Teesta river water was not resolved soon.

She said all Indian leaders “have conveyed to me that they are mindful of the difficulties Bangladesh faces and assured us that they are trying to resolve the Teesta issue”.

Asked if the Indian leaders had given any time frame for evolving a consensus and solving the Teesta issue, she replied in the negative.

“How can I as Bangladesh home minister press India for a time frame for solving the issue?” she said.

Shahara said the Indian leaders also said steps would be taken to make the issuance of visas for Bangladeshis easier.

She said she had also asked the Indian government to hand over to Bangladesh Capt Abdul Mazed and Risaldar Moslehuddin Khan, the two killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman thought to be hiding in West Bengal.

She said both the Indian prime minister and the finance minister have “given me their word” that the Indira-Mujib agreement on land boundary and exchange of enclaves will be placed in the Indian parliament for ratification during its upcoming budget session scheduled for March 9.
The Bangladesh parliament has already ratified it. 

Shahara also said Bangladesh was working on finalising the draft extradition treaty between India and Bangladesh.

Indian experts start Farakka water probe

A team of Indian government experts yesterday visited the Farakka Barrage to take stock of its two broken sluice gates.

The team, headed by RC Jha, chairman of Central Water Commission (CWC), inspected broken gates 13 and 16, three days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the fault which she claimed allowed excess water flow to Bangladesh.

Jha later told reporters at the barrage site that the repair of gate no 16 would be completed in the next few days, while gate no 13 would take some more time. 

The visit by Jha and his team came in the wake of Mamata's raising the issue at a meeting with Manmohan in New Delhi on February 23 and demanding a high-level probe into the breakdown of the sluice gates.

The very next day, the Indian central government ordered an investigation.

Jha will look into the reasons behind the collapse of gates 13 and 16 and suggest corrective measures. He is set to submit his report within the next 15 days to the Indian Water Resources Ministry.

Until the gates are put in place, a member of the CWC will remain at the barrage site on the river Ganges.

The probe will also ascertain whether the collapse could have been anticipated. It is learnt that Jha will also probe whether the collapse was an accident or done "intentionally”.
The barrage has 108 gates.

Mamata on February 23 said that in June last year, the West Bengal state government had noticed the leakage from the sluice gates but no move had been taken for the last eight months to plug it. 

She said that under the 1996 Indo-Bangladesh agreement on the sharing of the Ganges water, Bangladesh will get 33 percent water and rest will be for India. “But we found that because of the leakage, Bangladesh is getting 88 percent of water and as a result West Bengal's rivers, including the Bhagirathi, are suffering from lack of water.” 

Besides drying up the rivers, Mamata said it was affecting power plants and water supply in the state. "Thermal power plant is being closed down due to the water crisis."

She had also warned there would be severe water and power crises in the state.

"A disaster is waiting to happen because of the crisis. Many ships are not being able to move from the ports. It is scandalous. I demand a high-level inquiry into it," Mamata added.


Journalist Marie Colvin died trying to get her shoes, her paper reports

Marie Colvin, a veteran correspondent who was killed in Syria last week, died trying to get her shoes so she could escape a shelling attack, her paper reported Sunday.

Colvin, a New York native, worked for London's The Sunday Times.

As is the custom in Syria, she took off her shoes upon entering a building that was serving as a makeshift press center. She was on the ground floor when rockets hit the upper floors, The Sunday Times reported.

Thinking then that the building was a target, Colvin rushed to retrieve her shoes in the hall. A rocket landed just a few yards away, the paper said.

Colvin, 56, was the only British newspaper journalist inside the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, was killed alongside French journalist Remi Ochlik in the attack Wednesday.

Her mother, Rosemarie Colvin, said aid workers have been trying for days to remove her daughter's body from the war-ravaged country. They tried again Saturday, but ultimately determined that the situation was too dangerous.

Her daughter's body may be buried inside Syria now, she said.

"We were told yesterday that today was probably the last day," the elder Colvin told CNN.

She added that she believes her daughter was deliberately targeted by Syrian government forces.

"They were first in another house, and the top floors there were blown off," she said. "First (the Syrian forces) rocketed the front of the building," she said, fueling suspicion that the attack against a makeshift media center where Colvin and Ochlik were holed up was no accident.

The Syrian government was not immediately available for comment.

The day before she was killed, Colvin had given media interviews to networks like ITN and CNN about the ongoing clashes in Homs, and about a child who was killed in the city.

"The baby's death was just heartbreaking," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "We just watched this little boy, his little tummy, heaving and heaving as he tried to breathe. It was horrific. My heart broke."

Colvin reported Tuesday that there was "constant shelling in the city" and that the child's death was "just one of many stories" in violence-wracked Homs. "It's chaos here."

Journalists and activists have been sneaking into Syria in an effort to report on the protests and clashes that have persistently challenged the authority of President Bashar al-Assad.

Colvin said graphic images like that of the dying child, who was reportedly struck in the chest by a piece of shrapnel, needed to be shown.

"Something like that I think is actually stronger for an audience, for someone who's not here, for an audience for which the conflict, any conflict, is very far away. But that's the reality," she said.

The siege of Baba Amr, where 28,000 civilians are "hiding, being shelled, defenseless," Colvin reported, has become a flashpoint of the country's bloody year of violence.

"That baby probably will move more people to think, 'What is going on and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening everyday?'"

"There are no military targets here," Colvin reported, refuting Syria claims that its forces are only hunting terrorists.

"It's a complete and utter lie," she said of the government's response. "The Syrian Army is basically shelling a city of cold, starving civilians."

A day later, Colvin and Ochlik were killed.

Colvin, a Yale graduate renown for reporting on war's more human consequences, had for years worked in conflict zones and high risk areas, despite losing an eye in 2001 during a grenade attack in Sri Lanka.

Since her death, her family has started a fund in her honor.

"We felt we had to do something so there was a place that people could donate," said family member Michael Colvin.

The Marie Colvin fund is intended to direct resources to charities that her family says she would have supported.